Thursday, March 31, 2011

F3 – Cycle 24 – Pulp Fiction; Rise of a Gumshoe

I jumped into this week's prompt later than I wanted, so, I have to add this tale to a growing list of others that needs finishing and polishing. That being said hope you enjoy my brief tale of detective meets steampunk, wish I had more time for the steampunk portion (my 1st attempt at this genre). Enjoy!

     Colgan leans back into the cushion of the chair, as he places the plain silver cigarette case back inside the inner left pocket of his charcoal-gray wool blazer.  The rectangular, natural colored oak desk, behind which he sits; clear except for:  a small, dingy, tin ash tray; a Princeton style desk lamp; and a plain gray Fedora.  Colgan puffs alight a hand-rolled cigarette, the orange glow lending its faint light to cut the gloom of the half-dark, interior office.

     "This is a tough business you've chosen for yourself, mack.  It chews up lightweights and flattens has beens, alike, see.  Why 20 years ago, I sat right where you're sittin.  Only work in those days was the dangersous type, see.  Being a dick meant ruffling feathers and maybe getting roughed up yourself.  Where quick reflexes were as important as quick wit."  He pauses to blow a smoke ring into the air.  "I decided I needed an edge, if-n I was gonna claw my way to the top.  I had just gotten a hold of a piece of scuttlebutt; a rumor of a rumor if you will, of a black market tinkerer conducting suspicious experiments, artificial mechanical limbs, non-traditional weapons, etc.  Only, none of it had hit the street, if the rumors could be believed, see.  Now around this same time, I had got word of a big job, kinda money that could you set up for a while, put your name on the lips of the who's who crowd.  But, the kinda job you'd hesitate to take on, even if you had the national guard backin ya, see.  So, I decided to track down this tinkerman."

     The perfume of the harbor permeated the dank, night air as he neared the district of the city juxtapositioned just west of the docks.  The clicking sound of the soles of his shoes on the damp pavement reverberated from the gray stone and weathered wood buildings of shops and warehouses.  He turned abruptly at a sound like that from a scuffed shoe, fearing a stealthy footpad or similar nefarious character.  He released a breath he had not been aware of holding, as a plump brown rat scurried into an adjacent gutter.  He flipped up the collar of his dark trench coat in an attempt to conceal as much of his face as possible , as he darted furtive glances into the shadows from one building to the next, while turning and continuing toward his destination.  He took a deep breath , and then quickly ducked into the next alleyway.  Pitch black darkness caused him to slip and subsequently slide down a short flight of grime slicked stairs, two paces into the narrow alley.  Momentarily, the beat of his heart deafened him, as its steady rhythm pounded in his ears.  He slowly rose to his feet, remaining crouched in a futile attempt to better pierce the gloom.  He moved furtively down the gritty stone pathway, which came to an end after approximately ten paces.

     'What a waste', he thought, as he placed a hand against the rough stone and placed the brim of his Fedora against the back of his hand.  Down to the right of his shoe , he caught the glimmer of a coin directly situated at the join between path and wall.  As he bent to retrieve the coin; 'No, not a coin, but a strange silver light escaping through a tiny hole directly in the seam.  He laid flat on his stomach, knees bent, in order to closer inspect  the source of the light.  As he peered into the hole, he thought a hallucination had taken control over his senses.  Below, a workshop buzzed with activity of what could only be described as machines of varying designs, shapes, and sizes moved about seemingly of their own accord, without wires, strings or cords of any kind.  All appeared made of an unfamiliar metal. 

     Twelve-inch tall metal men with what could only be described as bat wings attached to their backs zipped to and fro.  While, shiny dogs and cats pounced, darted and swiped at one another, as human sized man replicas placed finishing touches on two-foot tall soldiers, that subsequently rose and jumped down onto the shop floor and marched or stalked about, while, wielding miniature sized military grade rifles.


Prompt courtesy of Flash Fiction Fridays

Monday, March 7, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday: F3 – Cycle 21 – Defense Wins Championships


     "Davis!  What does my calendar look like for the coming week?"

     "You have meetings all week, Mr. Redgard, sir.  Most of them in locations downtown, sir, including one tomorrow at ten in the morning at the Tycon Building."

     "Negative!  I hate going to that part of town, especially Fridays.  Here's a better idea, why don't you go in my stead, come back and disseminate the information to me Monday Morning before the weekly management meeting."

     "Will do, sir" "And what should I tell the other attendees is the reason for my attendance in your place?"

     "I could care less what you come up with, just make it believable!  Make sure you call me after the meeting and let me know how things went.  I'll be playing a round with some colleagues, so you may need to try my cell more than once."  "That'll be all, Davis!"

     Closing the doors behind him, Paul Davis exits his boss's office, stepping back out into the hallway.  He turns on his heel, his legs slightly unsteady at the revelation, he would be attending a meeting of higher-ups in less than 24 hours.  He fights hard against the panic rising within him and tries to calm himself through deep breaths and pleasant thoughts.  Desperately, seeking to avoid his all too familiar reaction to heightened anxiety.  With the light sweat cooling on his forehead, he mutters, "best to avoid that at all costs"

     Arriving at his suburban apartment, Davis enters, places the Chinese Takeout on the counter, still struggling to clear his mind of thoughts of downtown, thousands of people rubbing against, brushing by, and nudging one another this way and that.  In their chaotic scramble to out race everyone to destinations unknown.  He shakes his head in disgust, at the random and disorganized nature of urban life in general. 

     Is this all there is?  No wonder, so many wives seek fulfilment outside of marriage.  The same boring...

     He awakens, sitting bolt upright, heart pounding, with the base of his skull throbbing in rhythm with his heart.  Extricating himself from his entangled, sweat dampened sheets, making his way to the balcony door, juxtaposed of the kitchen.  He pushes aside the sliding glass door and steps out into the night air, hoping the light wind would assist in cooling his body as well as clearing his mind.

     Why could he not control it?  Those last thoughts before he awoke, he shudders when he thinks of where they originated.  Although, it had served him well on occasion, affording him insight, he would otherwise have been unprivy to.  Still, the intesity at times proved dizzying and always left him with an annoying headache.  Aspirin nor Tylenol would alleviate the symptoms, only relaxation and empty thoughts.  Seeing, the dawn of day is not far-off, he decides to take a seat on the cement balcony floor, pressing his bare back against the glass in an attempt to empty his mind of pressing thoughts. 

     With the arrival of the sunrise, he stands up ready to attend to his morning routine, having only succeeded in reducing the level of his anxiety.

     The train downtown displays far more empty seats than he had imagined.  Even with that, his anxiety level slowly builds as the train pulls into the station.  The doors open and he rushes to be one of the first riders to exit the train.

     "Hurry up already, so others can get on"

     "Dang, I forgot my workout gear. I wonder if I have any leftover clothes in the office, they should be..."

     "I don't care what the rules are, I'm finishing the rest of this..."

     "Uggh, these cramps are almost unbearable, what are you lookin at..."

     "I hope the timer doesn't go off prematurely..."

     Pushing through the throng of riders on the platform, Paul rushes over to a uniformed police officer, pointing out the gentleman thinking about timers, describing the device as something he had seen in the suspicious character's backpack.

     "Figures, something like this has to happen on  my shift"  "I'll check it out, move along", the guard waves his hand in a shooing motion, as he assertively moves in the direction of the train, while speaking into his hand-held radio.

     After rushing away, climbing various escalators, he finally emerges on to street level, three city blocks away from his destination.  He's immediately immersed into the flowing current of pedestrian traffic.

     "Next time I won't..."

     "Nice shoes..."

     "Someone needs a shower..."

     "Look at the bubble on tha..."

     "Should have eaten breakfast, I'm..."

     The onslaught continues, until he arrives in front of the building whose design resembles the seat of a toilet bowl.  He enters the building with butterflies in his stomach and a throbbing headache with just enough time to arrive at the meeting on time.